Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

What do aid agencies need to do to get serious on changing social norms?

Earlier this week I spent a day with Oxfam’s biggest cheeses, discussing how we should react to the rising tide of nationalism and populism (if you think that’s a Northern concern, take a look at what is going on in India or the Philippines). One of the themes that emerged in the discussions was how to engage with social norms – the deeply held beliefs …

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If we want to innovate, we need to disrupt our relationships and embrace tension

Guest post from Caroline Cassidy, Communications Manager in ODI’s Research and Policy in Development team Henry Ford famously said ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ The same can be said for our relationships. When it comes to getting evidence into policy no one can dispute that to have any success you need strong working relationships, champions, …

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How do we shift social norms on climate change?

Spent an enjoyable hour discussing strategy with exfamer Kate Norgrove, who now runs the Purpose Climate Lab (see here for the kind of thing they do). Kate wanted to discuss their theory of change (what else?). Purpose has identified what it sees as a gap: while lots of organizations are working on climate change in ways that are oppositional or focussing on laws and policies, …

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How can governments raise money from automation and ICT to compensate the losers?

Got a feeling I’m going to end up looking pretty stupid with this post, but hey, what’s the point of a blog if you can’t humiliate yourself in public? Went to a ‘digital development summit’ earlier this week (here’s a prior curtain raiser on this blog). The theme was the ‘future of work’ (see earlier musings on this blog). Proper post to follow when I …

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Ten Signs of an impending Global Land Rights Revolution

Exfamer Chris Jochnick, who now runs Landesa, the land rights NGO, sets out his stall ahead of a big World Bank event next week. The development community has experienced various “revolutions” over the years – from microfinance to women’s rights, from the green revolution to sustainable development.  Each of these awakenings has improved our understanding of the challenges we face; each has transformed the development …

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The Power of Data: how new stats are changing our understanding of inequality

Every Saturday my colleague Max Lawson, who’s Oxfam’s global inequality policy lead, sends round an email entitled ‘Some short reading for the weekend if you fancy it’. This week was particularly good, so I just lifted it: This year has already been good for the improvement in data availability on inequality, with the launch of the Wealth and Incomes Database (WID) in Paris in January. …

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Can economic growth really be decoupled from increased carbon emissions in Least Developed…

Guest post from Steve Baines These are definitely not the research findings I expected to be presenting. The data in front of me has challenged some of my long-held assumptions. Climate negotiations through the years show us one thing very clearly – that Least Developed Countries demand the right to develop their own economies and build their own prosperity for their people. They are not …

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What do we know about when data does/doesn’t influence policy?

Josh Powell, Chief Strategy Officer at the Development Gateway weighs in on the Data and Development debate While development actors are now creating more data than ever, examples of impactful use are anecdotal and scant. Put bluntly, despite this supply-side push for more data, we are far from realizing an evidence-based utopia filled with data-driven decisions. One of the key shortcomings of our work on …

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A masterclass on cash transfers and how to use High Level Panels to influence Policy

One of the things I do in my day-a-week role at LSE is bring in guest lecturers from different aid and development organizations to add a whiff of real life to the student diet of theory and academia. One of the best is Owen Barder, who recently delivered a mesmerizing talk on cash transfers and the theory of change used by his organization, the Center …

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I just found a place where smart people take time to discuss books and ideas, and then you can…

Spoke at my first literary festival this week – ‘Words by the Water’ in Keswick. I’ve no idea if it was representative of other such events, but it was fascinating. About 100 people showed up to hear me bang on about How Change Happens. They were probably the most un-aid wonk audience I’ve spoken to so far; they were also the oldest – the demographic …

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The Economist profiles Gender Budgeting ahead of International Women’s Day

There appears to be some kind of feminist cell operating at the Economist. Without ever mentioning International Women’s Day (next Wednesday), they slipped in a wonderful tribute to Diana Elson and her work on gender budgeting, with the header ‘TAX is a feminist issue’. Here it is, (I’ve added a few links). Hope I haven’t blown their cover.

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WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: great content, terrible comms, and a big moral dilemma on…

Spoke yesterday at the London launch of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and The Law. Although Stefan Kossoff did a great job in summarizing the report on this blog a few weeks ago, I thought I’d add a few thoughts from the discussion. The current debates on governance, of which the WDR is part, bear some of the hallmarks of a paradigm shift: widespread …

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What does the rise of Digital Development mean for NGOs?

; Matt Haikin, an ICT for Development (ICT4D) practitioner, summarizes a new paper on digital development in East Africa reports, and the challenges for Oxfam and other international NGOs I’d been living in Nairobi for a couple of months, meeting all the interesting ‘tech for good’ types I could find (and there are a LOT for one city!), when an opportunity came up to conduct …

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How can media inspire accountability and political participation? Findings from massive BBC…

A recurring pattern: I get invited to join a conversation with a bunch of specialists on a particular issue (eg market systems). Cue panic and some quick skim-reading of background papers, driven by the familiar fear of finally being exposed as a total fraud (some of us spend all our lives waiting for the tap on the shoulder). Then a really interesting conversation.  Relief!

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